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Is this an example of toxicity in Bermuda?

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August 20, 2015

Dear Sir,

The numbers cited by the Minister of Finance as proof the economy is turning around have spurred much commentary. David Burt, the Shadow Minister of Finance, said in response: “The drop in unemployment is not a result of more jobs, but a result of Bermudians either giving up looking for work or leaving Bermuda entirely.” Ninety-eight comments were recorded in the response to the reporting of this story on your online edition of August 14. the majority of those comments bid the Shadow Minister to be quiet; told him he didn’t understand economics or sought to denigrate his views on the basis that he was simply against anything that looked like success under the OBA Government.

On August 17, your edition then featured an article by Mr Nathan Kowalski in which he said: “It looks like the entire ‘gain‘ in the unemployment rate is due to the fall in the labour force, ie. there was a decline in unemployed workers of 984 people, which corresponds to the 1,133 drop in the overall labour force.”

He then gave a series of reasons for this, which included the possibility that 1,133 workers had either left Bermuda or given up looking for work. There were three comments on Mr Kowalski’s article, all of them positive and in fact thanking him “for clarifying” the numbers.

I ask you, sir, what is it that accounts for such a difference of approach in how some of your readers receive basic information and interpretation of numbers? Mr Burt is a young man, educated to postgraduate university level and an expert in IT consulting and a businessman. Mr Kowalski is an equally young man, similarly educated to postgraduate level and is the CFO of an investment company.

They said the same thing about the same numbers. One is greeted with vitriol and disdain, the other with thanks and approval. Is this the manifestation of the toxicity of the country in which we live or is it the vestiges of that which we mustn’t mention any longer?

Of course, there is a clear difference between these two gentlemen. I believe the saying is “a picture paints a thousand words” ... in this case it bred 98 comments vs 4. And for those who would dismiss this as the playing of the race card, ask yourselves why you felt compelled to destroy Mr Burt’s commentary but said nothing about or applauded Kowalski. The honesty might be refreshing.



Of one mind: Nathan Kowalski, left, and David Burt, who responded to economic statistics
David Burt